Shakespeare Jerusalem at the Israel Festival 2010

Yakobovitz and Tobey in a scene from The Taming of the Shrew

Shakespeare rules in this year’s Israel Festival! In “Battle Between the Sexes” – a medley of short scenes from Shakespeare the center on the myriad possibilities of attraction, conquest and conflict between women and men, the winner is clearly Shakespeare Jerusalem!

The talented young Jerusalem based company, founded by Artistic Director Shannon Kisch, performed outdoors in the Botanic Garden, recalling the days of the Globe Theatre, and reminding all that as Kisch says, “Shakespeare is a great poet, but if he hadn’t been an entertainer he wouldn’t have survived in Elizabethan theatre.”

The company performed scenes from: Richard III, The Taming of the Shrew, The Winter’s Tale, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello and As You Like It in English, with creative introductions to the scenes presented by Kisch in Hebrew. Actors Herzl Tobey and Roni Yakobovitz are both Israelis who studied abroad. The cadence of their speech in English feels very natural, and the dynamic tension between these two powerful actors is exhilarating.

Roni Yakobovitz as Lady Anne

Yakobovitz portrays Lady Anne as a gentle soul, bereft, lost and confused by the manipulative wooing of Tobey’s Richard III.

Tobey and Yakobovitz in a scene from The Taming of the Shrew

Katherina is feisty, fiercly rejecting Petrucchio’s courtship, yet clearly enjoying the verbal (and physical) sparring, and Desdemona’s pure voice mingling with the wind rustling in the trees is heart-rending.

Herzl Tobey as Leontes

Tobey embodies his roles, appearing somehow larger and more masculine as the wrongfully self-righteous Leontes, youthful and hesitant as Demetrius.

Yakobovitz and Tobey in a scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream